Bumps in air travel
YOU’RE AT THE airport waiting to
board a flight when the airline announces
that the flight is oversold and they’re
looking for volunteers to give up their
seats. What should you do?
If you’re flexible about taking a
later plane, tell the gate agent that
you’ll volunteer to give up your seat. Ask what
they’re offering to compensate for the inconvenience. Some gate agents might be so grateful they’ll
upgrade your seat on the later flight.
Remember that if you’re bumped involuntarily,
the airline must pay you the price of a one-way ticket.
They will pay up to $400 cash if they reschedule and
you reach your destination within one to two hours of
the original arrival time; they may pay up to $800 if
there’s a longer delay. (The time frame is determined
by when the makeup flight is scheduled to get there,
not when you actually get to your destination.)
If travel vouchers are offered as compensation,
think twice. Find out if there are blackout dates or
other restrictions on redeeming vouchers for travel.
And if there’s no rush of passengers accepting a
voucher, wait to see if the airline improves the offer.
Late-afternoon and evening trips provide the
best leverage for bargaining for better compensation, as they’re popular with business travelers who
are anxious to get to a morning meeting or home,
and looking for someone else to be bumped.
If you’re bumped or delayed and you are sure to
miss an event, ask for a full refund. Explain that the
event was your sole reason for flying, and their delay
is forcing you to miss the event. Although there is no
legal requirement to refund your ticket price, the airline might do so to avoid a public-relations problem.
n College credit-
n Texting bans
mented, “People go through life
thinking their GPA was the most
important number in their college
years. Many find out their credit
score is even more important.”
WE INSTALLED an aggre-
College credit rush
gate concrete driveway.
The installer used a differ-
ent sealer than the one they
used on the three finished
driveways we examined
before signing a contract.
The sealer on our driveway
has dark splotches, milky
seams and a very uneven
appearance. The company
admitted the job was not
done correctly. They called
a manufacturer’s represen-
tative to inspect the job,
and he agreed it was not up
to par. But no solution was
mentioned to correct the
problem, and not only is
the company reneging on
their admission of error,
they are suing us for
the final payment.
In the past, I’ve warned about credit-card
accounts being promoted on college campuses, usually when each semester starts. Credit-card reps
invade the campuses, offering incentives such as
T-shirts, coffee mugs and other freebies bearing the
school’s logo, or other appealing gifts. Lured by the
goodies, many students fill out the forms without
even considering the terms of the cards they’ve
In 2008, 84 percent of undergraduates had
credit cards, with an average of 4. 6 cards each.
Statistics show the average amount of debt carried
by undergraduate student cardholders is now
$3,173, up 46 percent in just four years.
These practices led to sharp restrictions being
included in the new credit-reform legislation signed
by President Obama earlier this year. Eligibility
restrictions are being tightened to prevent trapping
both students and parents with an easy accrual of
debt, which is often difficult to pay off.
Adam Levin, the chairman of Credit.com, com-
Get ready for another ban. The Virginia Tech
Transportation Institute released a study finding
that when drivers texted, their collision risk was 23
times greater than when not texting.
Compare that to dialing a cellphone, and using
or reaching for an electronic device, which
increased the risk of collision about six
times. Lawmakers pushing for a ban
are also citing a separate report by
Car and Driver magazine that found
that texting and driving is more
dangerous than drunken driving.
Texting has grown from nearly 10
billion messages a month in
December 2005 to more
than 110 billion in
December 2008, as
reported by the cellular
phone industry’s trade
group. Consider the
implications if these
texters are at the wheel.
and the District of
Columbia have passed
laws making texting
while driving illegal.
Some critics have questioned whether these
laws are enforceable,
and whether reckless-driving laws already in
place cover texting while
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate
www.fightback.com). He is a frequent guest on
radio and television stations. Consult your local
listings for dates and times.
File a complaint
with the Virginia
Board for Con-
submit copies of
tion and photo-
graphs you might
have to back up
your claim. If their pre-
produces a “report of
findings” that reveals
possible violation(s) of
state code or board
regulations, they can
set up an informal fact-
between them, you and
the contractor. You should
be able to prove your case
with your documentation,
and then the board can take
appropriate action against
© 2009 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
OCTOBER 2009 The Costco Connection 13
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to
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interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the permission of the
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